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Sundance Unveils Spotlight, Sundance Kids and Special Events for the 2016 Festival

Sundance Unveils Spotlight, Sundance Kids and Special Events for the 2016 Festival

The Sundance Film Festival doesn’t just want its attendees to check out brand new indie features and shorts, the annual fest is also set on allowing its guests the opportunity to see some of the festival world’s other great offerings, even if they’ve played elsewhere during the previous year. Such is the point of the festival’s Spotlight section, which always includes a steady diet of fest favorites for those in need of a little catching up, and 2016 looks to be no different, as Spotlight will play home to screenings of features like “Green Room,” “The Lobster,” “Rams” and “Maggie’s Plan,” all of which have played at previous festivals.

The festival has now announced its full Spotlight lineup, along with its picks for its Sundance Kids section and its Special Events, which lean heavily on new television series like the James Franco-starring “11.22.63” and Chelsea Handler’s new documentary series “Chelsea Does.” The section will also host the sure-to-be-fascinating “Behind the Scenes of ‘Anomalisa,'” which promises to give a very animated peek at one of 2015’s best (and most inventive) features.

READ MORE: Sundance Programmers Unveil, Discuss 2016 Competition, NEXT Lineups (EXCLUSIVE)

Of these new additions to the festival’s slate, John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film
Festival, said, “The Sundance Film Festival is truly a place for discovery. We
have seen an increase in younger audiences in recent years, showing that the
next generation of independent film fans is culturally adventurous and drawn to
the diverse lineup we offer each year.”

More of the Sundance lineup will be revealed in the coming weeks, including their always-robust short film lineup. The festival takes place January 21-31, 2016. Below are the latest batches of titles announced today by Sundance as part of their Spotlight, Sundance Kids and Special Events sections. Synopses provided by Sundance.

Regardless of where these films have played throughout the
world, the Spotlight program is a tribute to the cinema we love.

“Cemetery of Splendor” / Thailand (Director and screenwriter:
Apichatpong Weerasethakull) — A lonesome middle-aged housewife tends to a
soldier with sleeping sickness and falls into a hallucination that triggers
strange dreams, phantoms, and romance. Cast:
Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomnoi, Jarinpattra Rueangram.

“Embrace of the Serpent”/ Colombia (Director: Ciro Guerra,
Screenwriters: Ciro Guerra, Jacques Toulemonde Vidal) — This blistering, poetic
story is inspired by the original journals of scientists Theodor Koch-Grünberg
and Richard Evans Schultes, who meet lone survivor Karamakate, an Amazonian
shaman. Over 40 years, they develop a friendship while traveling through the
Colombian Amazon in search of the sacred, psychedelic yakruna plant. Cast: Jan Bijvoet, Brionne Davis, Antonio
Bolivar, Nilbio Torres, Miguel Dionisio Ramos.

“Green Room” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeremy
Saulnier) — This wickedly fun horror-thriller tells a story about the owner of
a neo-Nazi club who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young
punk band after they witness a horrific act of violence. Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum
Turner, Patrick Stewart.

“Land of Mine” / Denmark (Director and screenwriter: Martin
Zandvliet) — At the end of World War II, a group of young German POWs captured
by the Danish army are forced to defuse and clear landmines from the Danish
coastline with no training. Inspired by real events, the film exposes the
untold story of one tragic moment in Denmark’s history. Cast: Roland Møller, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman,
Emil Belton, Oskar Belton. U.S. Premiere

“The Lobster” / Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, France
(Director: Yorgos Lanthimos, Screenwriters: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis
Filippou) — In a dystopian near future, single people are obliged to find a
mate in 45 days or else be transformed into an animal of their choice and be
released into the woods. Cast: Colin
Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman.

“Maggie’s Plan” / U.S.A. (Director: Rebecca Miller,
Screenwriters: Rebecca Miller, based on a story by Karen Rinaldi) — A young
woman’s determination to have a child catapults her into a nervy love triangle
with a heart-throb academic and his eccentric critical-theorist wife. Cast: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne
Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel.

“Miles Ahead” / U.S.A. (Director: Don Cheadle, Screenwriters: Don
Cheadle, Steven Baigelman) — Inspired by events in Miles Davis’s life, this is
a wildly entertaining, impressionistic, no-holds-barred portrait of one of
twentieth-century music’s creative geniuses. Cast: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lakeith Lee
Stanfield, Michael Stuhlbarg.

“Rams”/ Iceland (Director and screenwriter: Grímur Hákonarson) —
In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven’t spoken in 40
years have to come together to save what’s dearest to them—their sheep. Cast: Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Theodór

“Viva” / Ireland (Director: Paddy Breathnach, Screenwriter: Mark
O’Halloran) — In contemporary Cuba, a father and son struggle to escape from
each other’s expectations, duty, and the burden of past sins. Cast: Héctor Medina, Jorge Perugorría, Luis
Alberto García. 

This section of the Festival is especially for our youngest
independent film fans. Programmed in cooperation with Utah Film Center which
presents the annual Tumbleweeds Film Festival, Utah’s premiere film festival
for children and youth.

“The Eagle Huntress” / U.S.A. (Director: Otto Bell) — Step aside,
Daenerys and Katniss—Aisholpan is a real-life role model on an epic journey in
a faraway world. Follow this 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl as she battles
to become the first female to hunt with a golden eagle in 2,000 years of
male-dominated history. World Premiere

“Little Gangster” / Netherlands (Director: Arne Toonen,
Screenwriter: Lotte Tabbers) — Rik Boskamp wants a life where he’s not
constantly bullied. When he and his family move, the people in their new town
think his father is a Mafia boss, and everybody treats them with respect—until
a bully from Rikkie’s past turns up. How long can he keep up his lie? Cast: Thor Braun, Henry Van Loon, Rene Van
‘T Hof, Meral Polat, Fedja Van Huêt, Maas Bronkhuyzen. North American Premiere

“Snowtime!” / Canada (Directors: Jean-François Pouliot, François
Brisson, Screenwriters: Normand Canac-Marquis, Paul Risacher) — To amuse
themselves during their winter break from school, the kids in a small village
have a massive snowball fight. But what starts out as pure youthful fun and
enthusiasm deteriorates into a more serious conflict as the children learn the
role that love and friendship play in their lives. Cast: Sandra Oh, Ross Lynch, Angela Gallupo, Lucinda Davis, Don
Shepherd, Sonja Ball. North American Premiere

One-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works
that add to the unique Festival experience. An evolving section, this year
includes episodic work, short films and live post-screening discussions. 

“11.22.63” / U.S.A. (Director: Kevin Macdonald, Screenwriter:
Bridget Carpenter, Executive Producers: J.J. Abrams, Stephen King, Kevin
Macdonald, Bridget Carpenter, Bryan Burk) — On November 22, 1963, three shots
rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy was killed, and the world changed. What
if you could change it back? Take a journey to find out in this genre-busting,
epic new nine-hour event series. The Festival will debut the two-hour premiere
of the series, followed by
an extended Q&A. Cast: James
Franco, Sarah Gadon, Daniel Webber, George MacKay, Josh Duhamel, Chris Cooper.
World Premiere

“Behind the Scenes of ‘Anomalisa'” / U.S.A. (Directors:
Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, Screenwriter: Charlie Kaufman) — Michael
Stone—husband, father and respected author—is crippled by the mundanity of his
life. On a business trip, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel. He’s amazed to
discover a possible escape from his desperation in an unassuming woman, who may
or may not be the love of his life. The Festival will present a screening of the film followed by a
Q&A with the creators. Separately, they will speak on a Festival panel
explaining their creative process and how they brought their extraordinary film
to life. Cast: Jennifer Jason
Leigh, Tom Noonan, David Thewlis. 

“Chelsea Does” / U.S.A. (Director: Eddie Schmidt) — This
four-part documentary series features Chelsea Handler as she explores topics of
personal and universal fascination: marriage, racism, Silicon Valley, and
drugs. The Festival will
premiere one installment of the series with clips from the other three
installments, followed by an extended Q&A with Chelsea Handler,
Director Eddie Schmidt, and Executive Producer Morgan Neville. World Premiere

“The Girlfriend Experience” / U.S.A. (Directors and
screenwriters: Lodge Kerrigan, Amy Seimetz, Executive Producers: Steven
Soderbergh, Philip Fleishman, Lodge Kerrigan, Amy Seimetz, Gary Marcus, Jeff
Cuban) — Law student Christine Reade is introduced to the world of
transactional relationships in this original anthology series. Providing
“The Girlfriend Experience” (an emotional and sexual relationship
offered at a high price) gives Christine a rush of control and intimacy, but
she soon finds herself juggling two very different lives. The Festival will
premiere four episodes of the series, followed by an extended Q&A. Cast: Riley Keough, Paul Sparks, Mary Lynn
Rajskub, James Gilbert, Kate Lyn Sheil. World Premiere

“The New Yorker Presents” / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Alex
Gibney, Kahane Cooperman, Showrunner: Kahane Cooperman) — A groundbreaking new
series that brings America’s most award-winning magazine, The New Yorker, to the screen with documentaries, short narrative
films, comedy, poetry, animation, and cartoons from the hands of acclaimed
filmmakers and artists. The
Festival will premiere the first two episodes of the series, followed by an
extended Q&A. World Premiere

“O.J.: Made in America” / U.S.A. (Director: Ezra Edelman) — This
is the story of O.J. Simpson, one of the most polarizing people of the
twentieth century, and the city in which he lived for much of his life, Los
Angeles. The film explores Simpson’s rise and fall, centered around two of
America’s greatest fixations—race and celebrity. The Festival will premiere the full 7.5-hour documentary,
followed by an extended Q&A. World

“The Skinny” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jessie
Kahnweiler) — Follow feminist and wannabe YouTube star Jessie as she struggles
to live, love, and get over her bulimia. The Festival will premiere six
10-minute episodes, followed by an extended Q&A with Kahnweiler. Cast: Jessie Kahnweiler, Illeana Douglas,
Spencer Hill, Ryan Pinkston, Megan Ferguson, Sadie Calvano. World Premiere

“United Shades of America” / U.S.A. (Executive Producers: Jimmy
Fox, W. Kamau Bell, Star Price) — Political comedian W. Kamau Bell explores the
racial subcultures of America. In this original series premiere, he uses humor
to challenge Klansmen looking to rebrand their message. The screening will
include an extended Q&A. World

READ MORE: Sundance Announces Competition and NEXT Lineups, Featuring Returning Favorites and a Secret Director

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